Now you know.
You want to get married. If you've grown up in a Christian environment that places marriage on a massive pedestal, this desire is neither surprising nor shameful; it's merely something you've always assumed would be part of your future.
Yes, you're aware of the high rate of divorce in America. You're also realistic enough to recognize that in spite of what you learned from Jerry Maguire, a romantic partner isn't going to "complete you." But you want to have babies at some point, and you still vaguely believe in love and think it's possible that you might find it.
Yet, your thirtieth birthday is looming on the horizon, and in the world of Christian dating, you're decidedly past your prime.
One morning, you turn on your computer and find Tracy McMillan's Huffington Post article, "Why You're Not Married." Much to your chagrin, this article strikes a chord because it plays on your underlying fear: perhaps your single status is entirely your own fault.
Granted, you may not be as slutty or as bitchy or even as shallow as McMillan accuses you of being. But in her article, you hear echoes of your friends, relatives, church members, hairdressers, dental hygienists — all those inquiring minds who have taken an active interest in your dating life, and who insist you need to "put yourself out there more; try internet dating; stop looking so he will magically appear; let him pursue you," or every Christian female's favorite anecdote: "Make a list of what you want in a husband and then pray over it."
You've tried many, if not all, of the above strategies. Maybe you need to try them again? Perhaps in reverse order this time? You take a second glance at McMillan's article and conclude that you could be guilty of offense number five: "You're selfish." Yes, that one bears a ring of truth.
Note to self: Work on being less selfish in order to obtain boyfriend/future husband.
You jot it down on a yellow post-it and hang it above your desk. As you stare at this little square of paper, its sheer absurdity hits you over the head. You realize that, ironically enough, you have friends who could rival Mother Theresa in their selflessness, and yet they're still single.
You then recall a few other women you know who could technically be described as shallow or selfish or moody. Guess what? They've been married for years now. As you consider it all, you slowly recognize that there's a difference between wanting to improve yourself for the sake of being a better girlfriend — or a better person, for that matter — and wanting to improve yourself because you think it's the only way you will ever find love.
You also see your primary contention with McMillan's article as her assuming there are rational explanations for why women are still single — exact reasons they can pinpoint. Once they recognize their faults and fix whatever is hindering them, their future husbands will appear, and will notice them and be attracted to them because of who they are now, as opposed to who they used to be.
Granted, she may be right in some cases, but relationships are rarely that easy or formulaic because love hardly ever makes sense. After all, who can find a logical explanation for the marriage of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore? Who can rationalize the fact that my best friend found her husband while she was in the Peace Corp. and living in a tiny village in rural Africa?
No one can, because love often defies statistics. It can't be quantified. Yet, we try. We hope for formulas, or we strategize, or we attempt to fit all our ideas of love into a tiny box. But the relationships of real life tend to resist that.
When I was living in New York, all I kept hearing from the females around me was that there were twice as many women in Manhattan as there were men, and that half of those men were gay, which made the odds of finding love even more infinitesimal.
Yet, straight women in Manhattan get married every day, and I'm going to hazard a guess that some of them are bitchy. Some of them are less than perfect; some of them don't have it all figured out, because neither of those things are prerequisites for having a relationship. If they were, then nobody would be in one.
Imperfect, insecure, selfish, and downright unpleasant people get married every day because the people who marry them love them anyway. And that's a gift. Love can't be earned; it simply is.
With all of this in mind, you turn off your computer, continue with your day, and figure that like many circumstances in life, there are things you can control and things that you can't.
You can vow, as McMillan suggests, to be a better person and to give yourself a bit more grace because those are admiral qualities to strive for, but they won't guarantee you will find love. Even so, there's a certain bravery in trying.
As for the rest, it's all up to luck — or fate, or God, or the universe — or whatever it is outside yourself that you're inclined to believe in.